When I floated the idea of writing for this blog to my wife, she agreed it was a good idea. In her words, “It might be better than talking to the TV.” Normally, I don’t talk to televisions, but after Trump’s victory, I grew so agitated I cursed or babbled at the sight or sound of him.
I take some solace that I am not alone. Each day fellow Trump-crazed Americans express a non-stop howl of negative reactions—angst, anger, shock, desperation, paranoia, depression, fear, panic, insomnia, disorientation, alienation, resignation, despair and distraction. They forward, share, tweet, email every Trump scandal, gaffe, ugly photo, insulting cartoon, and inane remark.
However, beyond a certain point, much of this is unproductive, frenzied singing to the choir. We all know by now that Trump has dwarfed genitalia and why Melania looks so unhappy.
Repugnant politicians: During my decades of adulthood, there have been plenty of repugnant politicians, but there’s something different about Trump—the bombast, self-aggrandizement, bullying, belittling, incoherence, dishonesty, misogyny, faux-Christianity, hyperbole, racism, impulsiveness, self-contradictions, xenophobia and sexual predation. His dangerous alt-reality in which America’s allies are enemies and our enemies are allies, media invents the news, facts are fantasy, America needs rescue, science concocts global warming, a border wall will save us from bad dudes if it’s built bigly high, bigly high, believe me, believe me…Trump is crazy.
Trump is crazy.
The word “crazy” is used here in a clinical sense, not as a pejorative. He clearly has a severe personality disorder. Recently, a group of mental health professionals co-signed a formal letter to the NY Times expressing their concerns about his mental stability. A Duke psychologist went so far as to diagnose Trump as suffering from “malignant” narcissistic personality disorder (diagnostic code 301.81 in Diagnostic Statistical Manual-VI, if you care to Google it).
Don’t forget to take the short poll at the end of this post.
Others go crazy, too: I wondered as much. Hearing their expert opinions reminded me of the late R.D. Laing, a ground-breaking British psychiatrist, who made a couple of prescient, unsettling observations from his work with schizophrenics that are pertinent to helping us stall the destructive plans of the Trump/Republican regime:
#1 – If one family member goes crazy, other family members will go crazy, too. Worse, as the family members become crazy they make the already crazy person even crazier.
#2 – A person becomes crazy not just because of brain abnormalities, but also because serious dysfunction already exists in the family that precedes triggers it. There is a huge social component to losing touch with reality.
So what does this dead psychiatrist have to do with Trump and the U.S. early in his presidency?
Regarding #1, understand that the more we disparage and embarrass him, whether in satirical SNL skits or scientific Pew Research polls showing his unpopularity, he’ll get crazier. He’s shown no indication he’s able to modify his behavior; therefore we can expect more and more maniacal night tweets, conspiracy theories, and random outbursts and insults.
If we immerse ourselves in his craziness…We’ll remain stressed, spellbound and powerless.
Daily assaults: If we immerse ourselves in his craziness by spending all day sharing, reacting and refuting his latest crazy behavior, whether in social media, work or the coffee shop, we’ll squander valuable time and emotional resources. His daily assaults on political normalcy will divert us into ineffective, ridiculing, bitching and complaining. We’ll remain stressed, spellbound and powerless.
Regarding #2, Trump is a symptom, not the disease. His presence in the White House is the result of dysfunctions in our economic and political system that will take focused, creative efforts to fix:
- An electorate more polarized than any historic period since the Civil War.
- Gerrymandered congressional districts and an obsolete electoral college that tilts federal elections towards the Republican Party before a single vote is even cast.
- A Democratic Party that lacks vision, is bureaucratic, and falls back on outmoded New Deal/Great Society approaches to solving the novel challenges of a diverse and rapidly changing population in urban and rural areas.
- Extreme income inequality that is sustained by soulless corporations and the 1 percent who own and control them, along with our two major political parties.
These are why Trump and a minority of Americans were able to hijack the U.S. government. At some point, Trump may be impeached, but not because he’s crazy. Many prominent leaders were mentally ill (read the book A First-Rate Madness by Nassir Ghaemi, M.D.) Trump and his inner circle of zany ideologues and congressional enablers can only be excised through the mundane, grunt work of politics and elections. That’s where we need to expend our passions for revenge and justice.
Dr. Allen Frances, the psychiatrist who chaired the task force that identified narcissistic personality disorder for the DSM, wrote that the diagnosis does not apply to Trump because he does not exhibit enough “distress and impairment.” In fact, Frances concluded:
“His psychological motivations are too obvious to be interesting, and analyzing them will not halt his headlong power grab. The antidote to a dystopic Trumpean dark age is political, not psychological.”
What we can do:
Therefore, it’s time to limit our fixation with Trump’s antics, minimize his time in our psyches. Let’s substitute some of our hours squandered obsessing about him with small, simple daily actions.
You’ll find an arsenal of grassroots action ideas at Rogan’s List. Another really innovative organization is The Sisters Project, which bypasses the ineffectual and expensive Democratic Party apparatus in Washington D.C., and funnels resources directly into supporting candidates and developing voting constituencies in the places Trump and other alt-reality candidates usually win.
And don’t worry–you’ll still have plenty time to stick pins of anger and moral outrage in the pudgy voodoo doll with the blonde hair out in cyberspace.
More ideas on how to deal with Trump stress: First step to resistance: A peaceable daily routine by Bear Jack Gebhardt.